A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Leprechaun Chase 10K

on March 12, 2015

For race number 5 of 2015 (wow!), I headed out this weekend for the Leprechaun Chase 10K. This race has a really cute (or sexist depending on how you want to see it – let’s go with cute today) set up. The elite female runners (“lasses”) get a five minute head start over the elite male runners (“lads”) and whoever crosses the finish line first wins beer for their entire sex. That means the guys have to make up that 5 minute head start over the course. They talk about how they calculated the set up here, if you want more information.

Lads and lasses starting lanes

Lads and lasses starting lanes

The race started at the Strategic Air & Space Museum just outside of Omaha, which was great for us because Darrell & Oliver got to hang out at the museum while I ran. We headed out to run a course through Mahoney State Park, nearby, which included lots of hills, some sections of trail and some grassy, cross-country sections. With the melting snow thanks to the gorgeous weather, it was also more than a little muddy! Thus, my only real goal at the start of this race was not to fall down and hurt myself. With the terrain, I didn’t really have a time goal because I didn’t know what to expect.

Lots of green at the starting line and lots of tutus!

Lots of green at the starting line and lots of tutus!

There was a costume contest in association with the race and a green beer after party, so it was a very festive atmosphere at race kickoff. My favorite costume was a guy with a beer hanging over his head as his racing “carrot” and he ended up with a prize at the end.

I'm impressed that he ran 6+ miles with that thing bobbing over him!

I’m impressed that he ran 6+ miles with that thing bobbing over him!

They started us off through separate “lad” and “lasses” starting corrals, with lots of music and a very party atmosphere at the starting line. It was a 4 pm race, so lots of people were looking forward to the post-race party as a kick off to their Saturday nights and it was a fun crowd.

Almost immediately, we got a taste of the cross country part of the course as we headed over the grassy hill between the Air & Space Museum and the state park roads. I was just planning on running/walking as I could based on the terrain and definitely slowed to walk part of that first slope, with the mud, hay and grass making things very slippery! It wasn’t long, however, before I realized that on the roads of the state park I was passing LOTS of people and running fairly well. I didn’t even look at my watch or my pace until I was past the halfway point, just enjoying the crowd and the course.

Even brown, the scenery was nice.

Even brown, the scenery was nice.

Even though things hadn’t greened up any yet in terms of trees and grass, it was still pretty scenery to travel through and there were bag pipe players out on the course! I also got to see the female leaders cross near us well ahead of the guys, so spent the last 2/3rds of the race secure in the knowledge I had a green beer for free waiting for me.

At 4 miles, I realized I was running around 11 minute miles, which was faster than I was expecting on that terrain. Even better, I felt GOOD. I decided at that point that I would set some goals for the last couple of miles to practice my mental “finish strong” that I tend to fall short on in races. I had one particularly great hill effort during mile 4 that cemented this decision. I was mentally telling you guys how I was killing the hill as I was running up it! I decided to stick with at least 3 minute run/30 second walk intervals for the rest of the race and to pass 5 people in the last half mile. I was also going to eat all of the remaining hills for lunch. A lot of the first part of the race was downhill, so I knew I had some hills still ahead of me.

With the loops of the course, we passed these bag pipers a couple of times.

With the loops of the course, we passed these bag pipers a couple of times.

As I passed more and more people, I knew that my “pass 5 people” goal was too low a bar. I lost count of the number of people I “reeled in,” a strategy I’d never tried but worked really well! It was especially good on hills, where I would pick a person and visualize a lasso from my hips to theirs, reeling me. Focusing on my hips kept me from leaning over from my shoulders and screwing up my form too much.

I felt great at mile 5, so I decided that I wanted to negative split the race and to run all of the last mile without a walk break including that uphill grassy section near the end. It was tough, but I did it and was rewarded with seeing Darrell & Oliver waiting out in front of the museum!

They sat out front to cheer the runners who came in at the last quarter mile of the finish at the museum.

They sat out front to cheer the runners who came in at the last quarter mile of the finish at the museum.

I finished strong and got my green beer to celebrate at the finish. I think that was actually my first green beer, surprisingly enough. It was a really crowded and boisterous crowd at the after party (with loads of food options in addition to the beer), but I finished my beer and headed up to find Oliver & Darrell. My final finish time was 1:07:39, with a pace of 10:53 and a negative split. Most importantly, I felt like I finished really mentally strong so I could not be more pleased with this race. With all of the hills and variations in terrain, I had some soreness around my knees and ankles on Sunday that I don’t normally have following a run, but overall it was a lot of fun. I’d definitely do this race again!

Any race that finishes with green beer is a winner, right?

Any race that finishes with green beer is a winner, right?

Things that worked in my favor for this race, that I need to remember for Lincoln, are A) lots of self talk, including thinking about my “cape” and keeping my shoulders back, keeping my stride short and leading with my hips up the hills; I also told myself “I can do hard things” over and over during that last mile when my mind wanted to wimp out. B) walk breaks early on, which meant I had the reserves to finish strong. C) reeling people in was a surprisingly effective visualization strategy for me! D) 3 minute run/30 second walk worked well in terms of pace, so I need to practice that with long runs to see if I can maintain that or better to keep my desired pace for long runs.

My only other race before the Lincoln Half Marathon will be a 5K or two, so I’m glad I had this slightly longer race to practice some mental strength before race day. I am going to keep this strong finish in my mind to remind myself that I CAN do this if I don’t let my mind wimp out on me. 🙂

Do you have plans for a St. Patrick’s Day themed run?

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9 responses to “Leprechaun Chase 10K

  1. Meg B says:

    So who won the free beer, the lads or lasses?
    AWesome race! Go you!

  2. Congrats on running a great race, being mentally strong, and finishing strong! I have heard of the “reeling people in” strategy but have never tried it. I need to try that!

  3. […] fun, with no time goal: Done, and was pleased with my mental effort on both fronts. Check them out: Leprechaun Chase 10K and Diva Dash […]

  4. […] The only injury I’ve had so far (knock on wood) is a little Achilles irritation after the Leprechaun Chase 10K and that settled down with a week of walking and strength […]

  5. […] local races I’ll pick up along the way. I’m a little sad I’ll be missing the Leprechaun Chase this year, since I really enjoyed the variety of terrain in that course last year (not the mention […]

  6. […] too worried about finishing last because this race was put on by the same group that did the Leprechaun Chase 10K I ran last spring, which attracted lots of costumed runners who were there for beer and a good […]

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